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Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made
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Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  585 ratings  ·  94 reviews
At thirty-nine, movie critic Mary Pols knew she wanted to have a baby. But never—not in a million years—on her own. To take on the physical, emotional, and financial challenges of motherhood without a perfect soul mate/husband would be absurd, kind of like not bothering to use a condom during a one-night stand with an adorable but jobless guy ten years her junior.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Ecco (first published June 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  585 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
a memoir about a 39-year-old single movie critic for a bay area weekly who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand with a cute 29-year-old at the bar. not really her fault, turns out the dude just decided not to use a condom after she asked him to get one.

she worries that this may be her last chance to become a mother (short of adopting, which is always an option). she'd kind of been holding out for the whole loving husband-planned children scenario, but the biological clock is ticking &
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The title of this memoir makes it sound fluffier than it actually is. While it is indeed about a one-night stand turned into a pregnancy and parenthood, it's also about the author's loss of her parents, about co-parenting with the father of the child, and it's about Maine (which I happen to adore, and where the author is from originally). I really enjoyed it.

I find the negative Goodreads reviews of the book a little surprising. It's not high literature, to be sure, but many of the objections se
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I admit that this was meant to be a fluff read. I tried to cram a bunch of non-fiction into the front end of my reading challenge, because I often find it difficult to finish, but I can "do" memoirs. I don't usually review them, but I often enjoy reading them.

The first half of this book reads like a memoir. The second half reads like a journal, or a blog, without the kind of reflection the first half gets, but still alright. I began to wonder which circumstance of her life was memoir
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-bio
Fabulous story about becoming a mother as well as about being a daughter, all mixed in with the frustrations and joys of having an undefinable "family" relationship with the unexpected father of her child. I think the reason I liked this so much is that I liked the woman, could relate to her, she would probably be my friend if I knew her personally. She lives a rather unconventional life in the San Fran area but has very normal ties to her large family in Maine. Her coming to terms with all of t ...more
Terri Lynn
You might be able to tell from the rating I gave this book and the shelves I placed it on that I thought that the author of this memoir is an idiot and that this book is the evidence. I am sure this would be proof enough for any court of law. I read it because a friend really wanted me to and sent it to me. She hated it and said I wouldn't believe it even when I read it.

Mary Pols is 39 and, like Charlotte on Sex in the City, has some kind of Cinderella fantasy going on about getting
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down. Mary F. Pols is a brilliant writer whose Maine roots and New England sensibilities shine throughout this memoir. I adored getting to know Mary and her circle of friends and siblings. She has a fantastic sense of timing - she very cleverly weaves past and present anecdotes throughout the book to give the reader a fuller appreciation of the bigness of her life's experiences and the tremendous impact having a child has had on every corner of he ...more
Sep 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-reads
Well-written and entertaining, if not quite enough to fully temper my initial reaction to a 39-year-old woman who just... doesn't use a condom during a one-night stand. I mean, it's neat that she's loving the best mistake she ever made instead of nursing the worst genital wart she's ever had... just not likely.
Fast read -- at times compelling.

The author came across as tough, although she had mellowed by the (very) end of the book.

I hope that her family arrangement works out over time and that the father's health improves. Since the author is a professional journalist, there may well be a follow-up memoir.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: recently-read
Not a bad read; well-written and affecting. It dragged a little toward the end and it seems like the author tried to cram in one too many epiphanies, but still an entertaining casual read.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so well-written and revealing...a little too revealing for me sometimes, as her child, Dolan, is in my 8th grade classroom.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Strange but interesting
Oct 18, 2008 rated it liked it
I casually picked this book up when perusing my local library's "new books" shelves and the title certainly caught my eye. I liked the idea of reading what this woman's journey must have been. And for the most part, it was interesting to read. However, about three-quarters of the way through the memoir you're suddenly dealing not with her raising her child, but dealing with the death of both parents and facing life as an "orphan" at the age of 40. I didn't really appreciate the sudden shift to s ...more
Amber Beasley
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2012
First of all, this book was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was a pro-life book about a woman who was going to have an abortion or something. Anyways, I thought it was going to have a pro-life message and it really wasn't about that at all. In the book she actually mentions that she is for "a womans right to choose", and it really has nothing to do with whether abortion is right or wrong, it's more about her story and how she wanted a baby but thought she was too old and didn ...more
Artnoose McMoose
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: current or impending single parents
Pushing 40, Mary Pols compares her life to those around her and is dissatisfied that she hasn't created the nuclear family that friends and relatives are enjoying. She is especially saddened at the looming possibility that at this point in her life, she might not ever have a baby.

And then she gets drunk and has a one-night stand with someone she barely knows. This results in a pregnancy.

I admit I read some of the reviews before reading this book, and people's common compl
Melissa Storm
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This one is probably more like a 3.5, but I realize I've been exceptionally stingy with my stars lately... So I'm rounding up.

This is a relatable, quick read. I found myself bobbing my head in agreement at some parts, and in others, I found myself wanting to wring the main character's neck--and since this is a memoir, the main character is a real person, the author. Every step of the way from finding out about her unplanned pregnancy to her son's toddler years, Mary proved to be incr
Lucille Day
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, I identified strongly with Mary F. Pols as she went through her struggles to find a satisfying relationship with a man, but ultimately had a child who was the product of a one-night stand and found true love with her child. I too had my share of horrific relationships in which men said and did dreadful things. Sometimes Mr. Right does not appear on the scene until after menopause, and sometimes he never does. Adult women (teenagers excluded!) who want to have a c ...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Sometimes an author's sheer honesty can carry a story and this was one of those times. With other memoirs I've read, I sometimes felt like the author was lying a little, sinning by omission. That's their privilege, of course--you don't have to tell all to write a great memoir. But if you choose to do so, it can help.

On the other hand, I felt like this was only half of a story. Story first, then a very long appendix of personal history, added on in order to bring it up to book length.
Badly Drawn Girl
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it

Thankfully Mary Pols isn't quite as wordy as the title would suggest. This is a good book about a woman choosing to raise the child that is the product of a one night stand. But it really isn't that focused on the pregnancy or the decision to be a single mom. The core of the book is Mary trying to force the father of her soon to be born baby to grow up and be responsible. It's a classic protrayal of enabling gone awry. She buys him a car, gives him a place to live, suggests career moves and basi
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I'm not sure why I love the random memoir so much, but I do, and this one was no exception. Mary Pols is a single woman approaching 40 and feeling unfulfilled and a bit depressed about it when she accidentally becomes pregnant after a one night stand with a man 10 years younger than her. She bravely forges ahead, has her son, Dolan, and creates a life for the two of them, surrounded by friends and family and most importantly Matt, Dolan's father, who turns out (surprisingly) to be an excellent d ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-books-2008
This book was made into a sitcom that I never watched, which has now been cancelled. Just as well, because though there were many funny moments in this book, I wouldn't say that it was a comedy. Suffice it to say that there's personal resonance for me in the story of an older, single-not-so-much-by-choice, reporter who ends up pregnant after a one-night stand. She decides to keep the child and to maintain a relationship with the father, who is younger and a bit flighty. That guy is far from perf ...more
✟Roxanne✟(Death by Book Avalanche) ☠
4 stars!

I really enjoyed reading this book, I thought it was well written, well edited and it kept my interest from beginning to end. This is not the type of book that I usually go for but going through an unplanned pregnancy alone (under different circumstances) I wanted to read something that I might possibly be able to relate to...and in some way I did. The reason why I knocked off a star was because some of the author's decisions made me a bit twitchy eyed...but hey it's each to
Jun 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
I found the author of this memoir to be alternately needy and strident, which was off-putting. It was fairly well-written and parts of it were interesting, but more of it was maddening as she struggles to make the father of her child into something he clearly has no wish to be. It seems that at the very end of the book a light comes on and she begins to accept that he's a good dad but not interested in a relationship with her, but really, how long did it take to reach that conclusion? The relati ...more
May 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
My friend loaned me this book & said it was good. I'm almost done with it & have to force myself to finish it so I can at least tell her how I thought of it. I don't know why I am so annoyed with it - maybe it's her or how she writes? Maybe it's the co-dependent relationship she has with the deadbeat father of her child? I feel like she is whining a lot of the time or maybe that's not really the word I'd use. I don't know. I do not recommend this to anyone. I feel I've wasted a week of m ...more
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Why is truth so much more interesting than fiction? A 39 year old who is watching her time clock has a one night stand with a totally inappropriate young kid and gets pregnant. Then the kid turns out to be a really sweet guy who is totally into being a good dad for the baby. I would never have believed it if it were a work of fiction.

It also is a story about Mary's family and the death of both her parents shortly after her son is born. It is a story we can all relate to and I would definitely r
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had purchased this book about 6 years ago. I have picked it up in the bookstore and read the cover and knew I had to read it. If you know me, you know that I can certainly relate to the author. I could relate to everything she went through and how she dealt with her emotions. She has a wonderful support group of family and friends that I was envious of while reading the book. I do hope she will write another book about the growth of her son and how she has coped as a single parent. I loved the ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mary Pols is brutally honest in this book. She recounts how she got pregnant on a one-night stand, but decided to keep the baby since she was almost 40. Even though I got married and had children fairly young and did not have to wrestle with the question of my fertility, I enjoyed Pols' memoir. She has to grapple with a mother with Alzheimer's, siblings across the country, and the father-to-be who gives slackers a good name. The book recounts her journey from tortured Singleton to happy mother a ...more
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've been in Bizarro World lately, hating books I expected to love and liking books I picked up on a whim at the library. This was completely engrossing, even though I didn't expect to enjoy a memoir about a 40ish woman who gets pregnant after a one-night stand with, well, kind of an idiot. I liked how brutally honest she is about her own flaws, and how she expresses her love for her kid without making it goopy and sentimental.

What next -- will I be raving about a collection of Polish sci-fi st
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This beautifully written memoir was a joy to read. I didn't want to finish it. I admit I learned of this book through the CBS sitcom loosely based on it.

The first half is pretty funny as it deals with her pregnancy and relationship with Matt, the baby's father. The second half deals with the death of her father and is less funny and dare I say, more maudlin.

Throughout the book her relationship with Matt and Dolan (the baby) helped pull her through so much. I kind of want
Jun 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, parenting
Fast and fun read about a 39 year old woman who is trying to fulfill her plan to meet Mr. Right in order to get married and start a family. In the interim, she has a one night stand with a 29 year old, gets pregnant, has the baby, and attempts to co-parent her son with a man-child. Along the way, she realizes that the accidents that occur in the midst of trying to accomplish more solid life goals are what make things truly exciting. Mary Pols is a funny writer and I enjoyed this story of a paren ...more
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Mary Pols is the author of “Accidentally on Purpose: The True Tale of a Happy Single Mother,” originally published in June 2008 by Ecco/Harper Collins, now available in paperback from Harper Perennial. A native of Maine, Pols has spent most of her professional life as a journalist in California.

She reviews film for and MSN.Movies. For many years, she was the movie critic for t